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Debt, unemployment threat to world tourism

A senior official with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) said Sunday that government debt and unemployment are the major concerns over the recovery of world tourism industry.

The huge public debt, widely seen across the world, may lead the governments to withdraw support for the tourism industry, UNWTO Secretary General, Taleb Rifai, said.

The current growth of tourism is backed by the recovering general economic situation stimulated by government intervention, Rifai said.

“In fact many governments in the world are having huge debts. Some of them might be tempted to start weakening the determination to stimulate their economy, if that happens, we would have to adjust our forecasts,” Rifai said.

The same organizations, which made positive economic growth forecasts on global economy, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, are saying that unemployment will continue to be a problem until 2012, because economic growths in some sectors create few jobs, he said.

“Under high unemployment rates, the government would have to pool more resources for the unemployed people and cut down the support for tourism. It’s a vicious circle,” Rifai said.

Unemployment may also lead to social tension, which is not a conducive environment for the tourism industry, he added.

“The tourism industry has to follow and is very much affected by the general economic situation, and the general economic situation has started to turn around. But we cannot call it a full recovery at the moment,” Rifai said.

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